With two surprise losses on clay, alarm bells have been going off everywhere on Rafael Nadal’s chances going into Roland Garros. But is the concern premature? Rafa has always found his way, and even the experts think so. Here are some questions ESPN posed to coach and analyst Brad Gilbert before Madrid next week.
Q. Concerned about Rafa?
Brad Gilbert: “Not going to say any concerns, but Nadal is about to be 28. The expectation is perfection every time, and it’s difficult to do that. Djokovic has started to play a lot better tennis and the emergence of Stan Wawrinka will be factors in Paris. And it’s just so hard to [win the French Open] a couple of times, so to do this like he does every year is amazing. I’ll just say this: Never underestimate Rafa. He’ll find another gear.”
Q. What about the world No. 1’s confidence?
Brad Gilbert: “He’s pretty honest in that everyone thinks he’s a machine. For him, he’s loses a couple of matches — it’s not like he’s going to win every one and every tournament — and he feels the pressure, but maybe that’s what makes him play better. For every good athlete, there are no guarantees, but Nadal puts in the work. There are just variables in tennis and sports we can’t control, but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with Rafa’s game.”